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Final public meeting held to discuss Talking Stick Resort Arena renovations ahead of vote

Talking Stick Resort Arena - Getty Images
Posted at 10:06 AM, Dec 20, 2018
and last updated 2019-01-10 23:41:21-05

PHOENIX — The Phoenix City Council has announced the dates of five public meetings to be held ahead of a vote on whether to allocate $150 million toward a $230 million overall renovation of Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The first meeting was held Saturday at 9 a.m. About 200 people attended Saturday's meeting, which lasted about 2 hours.

There were residents opposed and in favor of the city spending $150 million on Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Even Suns Manager James Jones attended briefly with some of his players to show support.

"We just wanted to show you how important this is to us, to them," Jones said. "We're invested here. This means a lot to us and it's an important time in Suns franchise history."

Suns owner Robert Sarver was not present; however, Mayor Thelda Williams and Councilman Michael Nowakowski spoke to the crowd.

After the meeting, Nowakowski said he still isn't sure how he will vote come January 23.

"I'm undecided, I want to figure out what the wants are," he said.

However, Mayor Williams said she hopes the proposal will pass.

City leaders said the money they would contribute comes solely from a "tourism tax" placed on rental cars and hotels.

"93 percent of the tax on rental cars comes from outside the state and 88 percent of the tax on our hotel rooms comes from outside the state," the city's Community and Economic Development Director Christine MacKay said.

The final meeting was held Thursday at 6 p.m. Suns President & CEO Jason Rowley said he’s been “pleasantly surprised” by the process.

“I think this was a terrific example of the entire community coming together and really talking about an issue that impacts everybody. Downtown Phoenix is important not just to the City of Phoenix, but the entire Valley,” Rowley said.

More information about the plans can be found here.

The council vote was delayed last mont month after outcry from the community over the costly renovations. A letter from City Manager Ed Zuercher on Dec. 12 asked for the meeting item to be continued to January 23, 2019, and also requested that public meetings be held "for our residents to learn more about the proposal and provide input."

The city council on Thursday launched a "public information page" providing background details on the proposed renovations, as well as the dates and times of five meetings that are open to the community.

See the meeting details below.

  • Saturday, Jan. 5 -- 9am-11am: Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ 85004 (Park for free at Jefferson Street Garage located at 3rd Street and Jefferson)
  • Monday, Jan. 7 -- 6pm-8pm: Paradise Valley Community Center, 17402 N. 40th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85032
  • Tuesday, Jan. 8 -- 6pm-8pm: Goelet A.C. Beuff Community Center, 3435 W. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Phoenix, AZ, 85027
  • Wednesday, Jan. 9 -- 6pm-8pm: South Mountain Community Center, 212 E. Alta Vista Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85042
  • Thursday, Jan. 10 -- 6pm-8pm: Desert West Community Center, 6501 W. Virginia Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85035

TSR is home to the Phoenix Suns as well as the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and many concerts throughout the year.

If approved, the arena would undergo a $230 million renovation between 2019 and 2021. The City of Phoenix's Sports Facilities Funds would contribute $150 million toward the renovation, and the Suns would contribute $80 million. Any costs beyond $230 million would also be funded by the Suns.

The proposed renovation "will include significant repair and replacement of mechanical, electrical and plumbing infrastructure" for the arena, which the Suns have called home since the 1992-93 NBA season.

If approved, the Suns will build an off-site practice facility in Phoenix, at an estimated cost of $25-$50 million, in order to free up space at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns will be required to pay for the facility.

Currently, the Suns' arena contract with the city runs through 2032, but the team could opt out as soon as 2022 if certain criteria are met. If approved, that contract would be extended until 2037, with an option to extend it to 2042.

The city also anticipates collecting additional fees and rent from the Suns as a result of the proposed renovation -- an estimated $60 million over the term of the agreement.